Zairil Khir Johari is Political Secretary to DAP’s Secretary-General

February 23, 2011


Zairil Khir Johari is Political Secretary to DAP’s Secretary-General

by Clara Chooi @

Penang Chief Minister and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng has named newcomer Zairil Khir Johari, the son of the prominent UMNO stalwart, as his political secretary in what appears to be the DAP’s latest attempt to shake off its anti-Malay stigma.

The son of the late Tan Sri Mohd Khir Johari is the first Malay to be appointed political secretary to the Secretary-General in the history of DAP, which was founded in 1966. He joined DAP last year.

The Penang Chief Minister, however, stressed that Zairil’s appointment, effective today, had been based on the latter’s attributes and qualifications and not on his race.

The fact that Zairil is a Malay, he added, was “purely coincidence”.“It is not because he is a Malay but because he is a leaned individual. He can probably even teach me things that I do not know,” he told a press conference today.

The Bagan MP added that a person’s level of competency is “race-blind” and not “race-specific”.

“Zairil is an entrepreneur, an idealist and a reformist — a truly dangerous combination. The fact that he is all that makes him fit the bill for our requirements… it is by coincidence that he is a Malay. With his extensive experience and positive contributions to the party, we feel that he can help us to bring real change,” he said.

Lim, however, admitted that DAP’s popularity among the Malays could improve with Zairil’s involvement in the party, but stressed that support should be attracted based on a community’s needs.

“We do not want to attract support based on race but on needs. And if the Malays have the greatest needs, then they should be the main beneficiaries.Zairil happens to be a Malay but it is about his attributes and qualifications first and only then, as a coincidence, our Malay votes may improve,” he reasoned.

Lim said that the “anti-Malay” tag on DAP had been created due to the success of Barisan Nasional’s political propaganda.

“We have never been so… it has always been the success of the propaganda of BN that we are anti-Malay or anti-Muslim so we have to break and fight this.

“I do not want to concede that we are a racist party like UMNO. No, we are open to all Malaysians and of course if Zairil or anyone else can help us to breach the gap, then that would be a step in the right direction,” he said.

Lim however admitted that Zairil has only been a DAP member for about six months, but insisted that Zairul with his qualifications could assist the party well.

“We want to reach out to all, including the Ibans, Kadazans, Chinese, Indians, Malays. It is not about race or ethnicities.

“We talk about the lowest 40 per cent of household income earners, most of whom are Malays. We want to focus on this group,” he said.

Lim added that DAP’s Malay support had improved since Elections 2008 but noted that it was difficult to ascertain if this could help Pakatan Rakyat affect significant changes in the government.

“But if you look at our support, it is much more now than before 2008. In Penang where I am CM, the Malays can see how we have made Penang cleaner and greener,” he said.

Zairil later told the media that he chose to join DAP as he had wanted to be on the side of “what I feel is right”. “When I first wanted to get involved in politics, I spoke to many people. I made up my mind that I want to be with what I feel is right which is PR,” he said.

He added that Lim had already given him many duties and pledged that he would work “25 hours a day” for the party.

“Any work that YAB Lim gives out is not easy because he is a very hardworking boss who works 24 hours a day. So we have to work 25 hours a day,” he said. Zairil will serve Lim as political secretary in the latter’s position as DAP secretary-general and will be based at the party  headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The 28-year-old is a Master of Arts graduate in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. He also has a degree in Information Systems Engineering and was an entrepreneur in the chocolate industry, where he introduced the first full-coloured chocolate printing technology in Malaysia.

The father of one comes from a family of nine siblings including himself and his father was formerly the education minister who served three prime ministers including the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, the country’s first prime minister.


49 thoughts on “Zairil Khir Johari is Political Secretary to DAP’s Secretary-General

  1. Zairil Khir Johari can stand on his own without his Malay credentials, given his academic background and entrepreneurial flair in business. He should be in Penang in stead of Kuala Lumpur so that he can really help Lim Guan Eng on the ground, and be together with Dato’ Dr. Mansor Othman and the hard working Malik Kassim to deal with isu-isu orang Melayu Pulau Pinang. –Din Merican

  2. Smart strategic move. I know this guy. He’s the son of Pak Khir with Christine.
    Okay I agree with Guan Eng saying he’s an entrepreneur, idealist and reformist.
    But the words “happens to be a Malay.” Bro please, you should have said he is of mixed parentage of Chinese and Malay, a true Malaysian. Of course cannot say 1Malaysia, because it’s a taboo word for PKR.
    Pak Abu, he is Khir Johari’s son. I know both Pak Khir who is my family friend and Christine and have met Zairil when he was still very young. I often visit Pak Khir at his house in Damansara Heights since Christine is an excellent cook. I was last there with Tengku Razaleigh for Pak Khir’s Birthday bash some years ago.–Din Merican

  3. This is a good move on a longish road that DAP has to travel. So far DAP seems to be the only party in the coalition that has managed to get its act together.

  4. Yes, he is Pak Khir’s son. But not with Mak Tom’s.
    I am friends with Mak Tom’s children.
    Oh yes Christine is from Penang and she cooks the best char koay teow and Teochew porridge.

  5. Actually, LGE shouldn’t sound so ‘apologetic’ about Zairil’s appointment. Let the detractor’s hentam him! Then only reply.. Stop fudging.

    Zairil can certainly stand on his own. He’s pretty bright and has all the credentials of being groomed to the top leadership of DAP. Being the son of Khir Johari, (the guy who patted me head way back in the 60’s as Edu Min) will certainly give him a leg up. Pak Khir is the only Edu Min i respect and what a son he has!

    All the best Zairil! Hope to see your name in the Hansard soon..

  6. There literally thousands upon thousands of upright and talented young men and women ‘who so happen to be Malays’ who are shunned by the UMNO crooks for fear of losing their (filthy) rice bowl.

  7. Absolutely true, barry.
    It’s the generation before them who’s keeping them down. A Threat as you so rightly point out.

  8. C.. Familiaris

    First time I agree with you. My point is why he must say Zairil happens to be a Malay.
    He should be saying I am proud to have a Malay working with/for me.
    Still politically naive la this GE. Or is it because he wants to appease the nons?

  9. Yes , Lim Guan Eng should not sound so apologetic . Zairil seems an excellent choice. Afterall , anyone who has an earnest need to be on the side of ” what i feel is right ” has to be a Malaysian and Malaysians are what we need .

    But Lim still has this problem in his party – the Chinese chauvinists for whom the consumption of pork is more important then respecting their moslem brethren. It is this chinese chauvinist ” face ” that DAP has to lose . Only then will it be successful as a malaysian party .

    I wonder if Zairil sees this and if he can help the chief minister to achieve this end . In malaysia , we don’t need racial chauvinism . What we need is respect for each others diversity .

    And this cannot be achieved if one race is considered supreme and one religion is
    considered the ” supreme ” religion. This is just not ” right “.

  10. Chinese chauvinists, arokiasamy? Yes.

    Let the “Chinapeks” like me deal with them. Spawn of prostitutes and gangsters can deal with their own. Me Malaysian first and last – nothing else matters! As the SG of a multiracial party LGE must not be seen fudging. Even if it’s political expediency. Grow up!

    Of course dato’ pak abu, you’d agree with me. Doesn’t mean that i’m opposition minded that i won’t hentam that Accountant. The problem with DAP is that they pander to the base instincts of their tribe. I hold no grudges, but i detest hypocrisy.

  11. Easy fellows… DAP can hardly shed its chauvinistic image in one fell swoop. Slowly, slowly is the way and LGE has to test the waters as he proceeds. He too has “ultras” within his party to deal with.

  12. Why do we still have Malay bigots who question Zairil’s Malay purity.
    If Mahathir can be Malay, why can’t Zairil?

    In any case, the day Zairil joined the DAP, I knew he was destined for greater things. Surely, DAP will be stupid to keep as an ordinary members.
    He is an asset as what LGE did was the right thing but he should be in Penang not KL.

  13. Ilham

    From what I know from Pak Khir and Mak tom’s kids, Pak Khir married Christine long before Mak Tom died.
    Mak Tom was sick for quite some time.
    Christine had two kids from her previous marriage. But there’s one with Pak Khir. Not sure whether this is the one.
    Will fone one of them to verify tomorrow.

  14. To set the record straight. Pak Khir married Christine in 1995 a year after Mak Tom died.
    He has two sons Dr Amir Sharifudeen and five daughters one of whom died in London when she was a teen-ager.
    Zairil and another brother is the son of Christine from her previous marriage.
    No problem with him taking on Khir Johari’s name.
    In the first place his name is Zairil Khir Johari.
    Whereas the other childfen are bin and binti Mohd Khir. Johari is their grand-father.
    GE should have said he’s the son of Pak Khir and don’t mention that he happens to be a Malay.

  15. The other son of Pak Khir and Mak Tom is Haizan.
    These six children are waiting for a court decision on their rights to the Damansara Heights house in Jalan Teruntum.

  16. What is Malay, again?

    Nothing to do with genetics, culture, social status etc. Everything to do with economic ‘halal’ pie (according to umno), religion and heritage. Let us redefine this and to be honest. Let’s do it holistically and name our offspring with a truly Malaysian name, like what the Indonesians and Thais have been doing for so long.

    While we are at it, revamp the whole bloody mess we call an Education system. Since there will be chauvinistic ultras on every side, let’s make it into the global language of commerce, science and technical studies. English or Manglish.

    Impossible? Of course! I’ve been smoking too much! But Dreams are necessary.

  17. Malay = NEP = Contracts on the lap if you join UMNO.

    That is the reason why that slit-eyed wannabee Malay Ridhuan Tee and the scores of UMNO-Mamaks want to be more Malay than a Malay.

    This is the short-cut to riches for non-Muslims who convert to Islam, not to become Muslims, but to become Malays ie bukan masuk Islam, masuk Melayu.

    Blame it on the Federal Constitution. The only country that has a constitution that can define a RACE.

  18. Penang Chief Minister and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng has named newcomer Zairil Khir Johari, the son of the prominent UMNO stalwart, as his political secretary .

    Whatever spin UMNO or DAP makes, it is a strategic move by Guan Eng.

    DAP has to de-Chinese the perception of the party. Nothing wrong if one section of the Malaysian community wants to back DAP.

    There is difference with UMNO. UMNO by its own constitutional mandate champions its cause based on race and racist policies.MCA and MIC are.

    DAP is NOT. PAS is NOT.

    Whatever it is, CM Penang Lim Guan Eng can take heart that even as a Chinese, he went to jail to defend the integrity and modesty of a Malay girl alleged to have been raped by an UMNO warlord.

    The incarceration of Guan Eng was politically motivated by this UMNO-BN … a case of UMNO-Melayu “BODOH SOMBONG”.

    Interesting the pro-UMNO blogger Sakmongkol had some nice words to say about Guan Eng

    “……Lim Guan Eng is simply a good leader. He is a good person. Penang is well managed. Ignore the staged protestations of the street hawkers who have not been paying the rates. Ignore Rizal Merican. The majority support LGE. Penang stays opposition.

    That thamby in Perak is just there warming the MB’s seat. Support for him in his own constituency is dwindling. Perak will be returned to the opposition with a vengeance. In the meantime, we hear Zambry is making hay while the sun shines. UMNO people are saying- kita salah rampas.

    Kedah- even the UMNO people like Ustaz Azizan. He says he now sleeps better when Najib appointed Bashah. Because Najib appoints a person he trusts more than a person he knows can work. Kedah will stay opposition.

    Selangor? Even the Auditor General says it’s the 2nd best financially managed state after Penang. Who wants to be MB Selangor? Noh Omar? Zain Badak? By the way, where did PLCE ( passed LCE) Satim Diman got his doctorate? Did he buy it or what?

    Kelantan? What can we say about Kelantan? Except that every UMNO leader will one day become the president of the Kelantan FA. They will then fight out who gets to manage the team and who gets to build new stadiums.

    In Terengganu, there are signs it’s going to the opposition….”

  19. This Zairil is a Malay because his mother Christine (Chinese Malaysian) married Khir Johari. That’s about all that is Malay about him. When Khir married Christine, he severed all ties with his grown up children & grandchildren from his first marriage to the late Puan Tom until his death. Did Zairil lead a Malay life? Ask him.

  20. Just because Khir’s son is of mixed parentage Abu goes berserk. Al Kutty has been screwing the Malays right and proper yet he is silent about his Kerala roots. Come on bro, be fair lah. Don’t tell me your are a Melayu tulin? I can’t claim to be one too.

  21. Frank, I am with you. LGE is doing a fine fine job. Gerakan can shaft their dreams of a comeback up their…..You know what.

  22. He is not even of mixed parentage. Zairil’s name was not Zairil Khir Johari before his mother Christine married Khir. It must hv been a Chinese name, like his father’s.
    PakCik, this is a non-issue. If it is, think of Dr. Ridhuan Tee Abdullah. Khir Johari would be disappointed since he loves this young man as his own. I know Pak Khir and Christine very well and Zairil too.–Din Merican

  23. Tok Chik

    I did not go beserk. Didn’t I say its a smart and strategic move. It’s his right to join DAP.
    What I am saying is it’s fine if GE announced him proudly as Pak Khir’s son.A step-son is also your son.
    After all in UMNO they are proudly saying they are Dato, Tan Sri abd Tun’s children. It’s a currrency to get ahead in the political ladder.
    Why not DAP? But for GE to say he happens to be a Malay is a mistake.
    I give GE the benefit of the doubt that he did not know that Zairil is a Chinese convert, the son of Christine from a previous marriage.
    And it’s not wrong for him to use his name as Zairil Khir Johari.
    There are already pro-UMNO and DAp bloggers who are already rabid on this.
    Just for you info, we went to Pak Khir’s funeral, being close family friends. Among the many wreaths and flowers are messages from conglomerates like Low Yat group which say Condolences Puan Sri Christine and mentioning only the names of Zairll and the other brother with their Chinese names.
    I only see one daughter Of Pak Khir and Mak Tom. Didn’t see the rest of the children.

  24. His name is Zairil Khir Johari bin Abdullah. Other Khir’s son or daughter would be bin or binti Mohd. Khir. How about TDM adopted kids from Pakistan. Are they Mazhar Mahathir bin Abdullah dan Maizura Mahathir binti Abdullah atau Mazhat bin Mahathir atau Maizura binti Mahathir ?? Ini pun projek IC Mahathir ??

  25. Pak Abu
    You probably saw Rozita at the funeral.

    “After all in UMNO they are proudly saying they are Dato, Tan Sri abd Tun’s children. It’s a currrency to get ahead in the political ladder.”
    Perchance your parents are a Tan Sri?

  26. If anybody is so extremely particular about the choice of words LGE is espousing, one would commit suicide when you listen some our great UMNO leaders speeches. #

    #Why on earth need to bring up the fact Zairil is a mixed parentage, Mr Pak Abu? If that’s the case, Mahathir bin Mohammad must be an Indian…..Say so in the National University of Singapore registrar…..Oh My goodness!
    #Talking about inexperience, do you know that LKY becomes SG of PAP at the age of 28 & become the PM of Singapore at the age of 35
    #As for the DAP being chinese cauvinist, even its predecessor PAP says (economic reason, hehehe] Oh, come on……what DAP needs to do is to have a rebranding exercise
    It’s tough but it’s possible. If you guys read the history of Singapore, you have known that all PAP melayu members treated as pengkhianat to bangsa melayu…….Malay dominated areas were no go area….YET In less than 5 years, all UMNO folks lingkup

    Having said that DAP has a long way to go in improving their standing in the malay communities…..However, it’s based on strong foundation rather superficial changes

  27. Mr Bean

    Sorry. Muslim concert.


    Not Kak Rosita. Her younger sis Kak Roselina. One of the younger sisters was my childhood sweet-heart.

  28. Hooray, mix them all up and inter marry I say!Then you get clever ones to run the country and lead the nation and the incidental is you get MalaySIANS instead of my race is this that and the other!(irrelevant stuff really) If the religous bigots didnt interfere every one would be mixed by now and clever in Malaysia!.

  29. These UMNO Malays have gone mad.

    If you are a convert, but not UMNO, then you are not a proper convert… instead they call you a CHINESE CONVERT.

    If you have a Malay name, you are still not Malay enough because you have a chinese face. Think of Abdullah Badawi’s children and all those Indian-looking UMNO mamaks. Take that illegal UMNO MB of Perak, Zambry as an example.

    UMNO loves that slit-eyed chinaman wannabe Malay Ridhuan Tee despite he had pork running through his veins before converted and his ancestors had passed down to him pork-related genes.

    Like those UMNO Malays with Chinese and other non Muslim fore fathers. They can be Malay whatever, but they still carry pork-laden genes in their bloodstream, however much they want to be anti-non Malays.

  30. “..still carry pork-laden genes in their bloodstream..” Frank

    It’s true that we’re gonna lose out plenty in Biotech R&D, if we don’t get our porcine genomics, proteomics and transgenics right. Perhaps the flurs you mention be used as experimental models for drug and other testing. See here:

  31. Whenver courting couples involving Malay men and non-Malay and non-Muslim women, the implementation of sharia law has been one sided.

    They are likely to bring Tok Cik to court whenever he is found ‘in close proximity’ with Christiane Amanpour in the back seat of his mini — but Christiane would be let go because she is not Muslim.

    This makes short shrift of our equality before the law provision in the country’s Constitution? Christiane feels they are denying her her right to stand by her man. She feels cheated of justice, that she deserves her day in court too. Even if that means appearing before a tribunal of men in robes, with skull caps and with goatee. She feels responsible and should have her behind stroked six times in prison as punishment for her frolics.

    Could this not be a conspiracy by Muslim women and Sisters-in-Islam to deny her of her day in the sun? Not prosecuting her for her crime of being in ‘close proximity’?

  32. What of the frolics of Cafe-Latte Frank as an undergrad in the ’60s at the peak of the flower power days, of potheads, of puffing the magic dragon, of the Chinaman french kissing a Malay girl in mini-skirt in the car parked in the Medical Faculty car park? Shouldn’t they be punished for contaminating the Muslim genes, carried to this day by their partners who have since married and have children of their own?

    What has JAKIM today gotta say to them??

  33. Mr Bean

    Kissing does not transfer port-laden materials into your genes. Stick to law… science is not your forte.

    You are too entranced by the court evidence of the sharing of seminal fluids in the national drama on the state of Saiful’s ass and how the celebrity ass will determine the future of Malaysia’s rule of law.

    In your case of the chinaman french kissing the Malay girl, if they are married, that is not contamination, it is called hybridisation… the muslim girl’s genes are still intact.JAKIM has nothing to say on that.

    But the children will carry the pork-laden genes consummated through marriage. These are the chaps who should be careful of condemning other pork-eating fellow Malaysians.

  34. Christiane Amanpour in the back seat of my mini? Bean, give this askar tua a break lah. I don’t want the Iranian mullah to come for my hide. Sharizat is bad enough…

  35. “Kissing does not transfer pork-laden materials into your genes.” Caffe-Latte Frank

    Transfer of body fluids is ‘haram’ because it could be laced with bah ku teh, so they say. True it may not contaminate the genes. At least there is no scientific research that says it does.

    Be that as it may French kissing is known to have led to tongues being swallowed. How do you explain the presence of so many tongue tied and speechless Chinamen otherwise??

  36. “I don’t want the Iranian mullah to come for my hide. Sharizat is bad enough… ‘ Tok Cik

    For your hide? Has your foreskin grown back? In that case an appointment with the Tok Mudin is over due. How do you like to have yours? A special cut with a pearl embedded on top or at bottom? That would be extra.

  37. the presence of so many tongue tied and speechless Chinamen otherwise??- Mr Bean

    You only find them many in MCA and Gerakan, not in DAP. And of course, Singapore Chinese, because LKY will not only remove their tongues, but their balls too.

  38. “Transfer of body fluids is ‘haram’..” Bean.

    According to my friend ariokosamy (Feb 23, 954pm), the main characteristic of chauvinistic Chinapek, is pork consumption. He is probably of the opinion, that it is genetic marker. Probably right too, since porcine genetics and protemics is almost identical in chauvinists of every stripe. This includes entities in other racist and ultra-nationalistic entities like Pekasa and BTN. But by all definitions, these are halal.

    It is to be noted that ‘zoophila erotica’ is rare amongst humans and suis species.

  39. Like Obama,he is a mutt,not a pure malay.And like myself,my mum is chinese born here in the 40s adopted by kind hearted malay couple.Was given a malaysian citizenship by BN government.Tq very much BN government.As the policy and development go,BN has always been consistent and this has helped to vastly reduce the inequalities created and designed by our colonial master, the British.Their divide and rule had worked successfully to undermine the local inhabitants such that till today economically they have suffered immensely and totally dependant on the chinese.Zairil, being Malay should thanks the BN for its policies which allowed him to go abroad to study and become competent. Its ok to join other opposition political parties to fight his causes as we all have different opinions.But, as a Malay,he should also join NGO such as Perkasa or other Chinese or Indian NGOs if he really honest to fight for equalities.

  40. Why are most of the comments on Zairil’s roots and religion? Respect him for what he is, not because he is the son or step son of a great humane politician – the late Tan Sri Khir Johari. I am a convert to Islam but I never feel comfortable among Muslims simply because there is this notion that Islam and Malays are synonymous and that converts are lesser Muslims. How then do you explain the rule that converts must maintain part of their original name? Please comment on the topic and the topic is “DAP has a Malay as a political secretary to the Party’s SG.” Thanks.

  41. Regarding the very first comment, I think it is very astute of LGE to have left Zairil in KL rather than Penang as DAP already has solid support in Penang and (due to the racial mix), doesn’t require any much Malay support. However, it is the rest of the country that DAP lacks the grassroot Malay support. So, working in the party HQ in KL is a great political strategy. I hope to see DAP diversity its racial mix. There is no reason social democracy is constraint to the Chinese and Indians only.

  42. From comments, readers, can assess true grassroots feel of the topic. In this case :
    Many comments display an ‘unhealthy’ obsession with ‘race’ ‘religious affiliations’ despite the political nature of this post.

    Besides invoking parentage of the appointee, with comical references to DNAs 🙂 .. which is of little if any relevant significance.

    One can only guess, but the reason we view events through such race-religion-slanted eyes could be the ‘indoctrination’ by current BN imposed policies, practices; as well as biases inserted into our minds’ ‘DNA’ from the previous 50 plus years of mis-education, propaganda, and subtle implanting of biases, through state controlled media.

    When we can think, act, and move with little reference to race, religion, parentage, honorary titles (Tuns, Tan Sri, Sir, Datuk), perceived intellectual superiority from educational status, (the list is incomplete), then we truly would have freed ourselves from the yoke of chauvinism. Then we would most definitely be free in the true sense of ‘Freedom’. For the present the focus should be to work towards freeing ourselves from enslavement by this insidious monster known as the BN government.

  43. enough talk about chinapeks !! There is a joke among indians that the malays do not know how indian they are in many ways, from food cooking to the language to their customs. I know that there is a trend to get rid of these indianness but what a pity, your whole culture is thrown away. The other day my daughter saw a malay movie showing the adat merenjis during a wedding scene in tv and she was shocked! She said why are they using our indian ithings for their wedding? Just months before she had to do that at the entrance of her cousin’s wedding hall.

    There is another joke when my hubby was offered some “masala vade” by his malay clerk. His pakistani partner and he were polishing them away when the clerk said Mr. XXXXX pun pandai makan “masalawade” orang melayu kita! Horror !!!! They both almost choked on ther vades.

    The language is the classic example of how indian they are. If you are from a mixed indian parentage (3 different type of indian in my case), you’ll see more of this. Just in case you don’t know, at least 30 – 40 percentage of malay word are of indian origin with the same meaning! bumiputera (bumiputeran – son of the earth), meja (mesha), bumi (bumi – earth) kerusi (kasala), syurga (syurgam), anugerah (anugrahm), perayaan (peranala), it goes on and on enough to book it!

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